Getting Behind the English Text – III

Published: June 10th, 2009

After introducing the subject in Part I and Part II, it is time to see how this all works in real life.

Let me emphasize that the ability provided by some Bible software programs to search a Bible tagged with Strong’s numbers is important for a number of reasons (despite other opinions).

First of all, it allows us to search on English and Hebrew/Greek words at the same time. Thus, it is possible to find “master” only when it is a translation of the Greek term κύριος (Strong’s number 2962). This automatically excludes from the search any verse where “master” is used to translate another Greek word (δεσπότης, διδάσκαλος, ῥαββί, and so on).

It also gives us the opportunity to study how different translations have decided to render a particular word or sentence in a given context. This gives us a hint about the different translation philosophy (literal, dynamic, etc.) followed in each particular case.

It is also noteworthy that words without a corresponding Strong’s number (i.e., “untagged”) have their importance. Many of these are often understood or implied in the original, or else are simply supplied in the modern language translation for stylistic reasons.

Using Boolean operators, mixed phrases (that is, Strong’s numbers combined with English words) and wild cards can greatly enhance these types of searches and allow for a greater amount of flexibility.

Having said that, do keep in mind the caveats I have mentioned in my previous posts. In this regard, you might want to check David Lang’s series of posts “Contra Strongnosticism” (parts 1, 2, 3 and 4).

Today I would like to focus on the implementation of Strong’s searches in Accordance 8.2.3, BibleWorks 8 and Logos Bible Software 3.0f. These three high-end programs can do pretty much anything we require them to do.

In the table below I have listed a sample of searches and the different syntax used by each one of the programs. I have limited the examples to text searches, although there are alternate ways to build these kinds of searches in a graphical environment.

Accordance BibleWorks Logos* Search
[KEY g2962]@-lord [email protected] greekstrongs=g2962 NOTEQUALS lord Strong’s #2962 not translated as “lord”
[KEY g2962]@-lord* .!lord*@2962 greekstrongs=2962 NOTEQUALS lord* Strong’s #2962 not translated as “lord*”
[KEY g2962]@lords [email protected] greekstrongs=2962 ANDEQUALS lords Strong’s #2962 when translated as “lords”
[KEY g2962]@lord* AND [KEY g2962]@-lord*
.lord*@2962 !lord*@2962 (greekstrongs=2962 ANDEQUALS lord*) AND (greekstrongs=2962 NOTEQUALS lord* Instances of Strong’s #2962 translated as “lord” and the same number translated with a different English word
m?n[KEY g444]@-lord [email protected] m?n ANDEQUALS greekstrongs=444 “Man” or “men” when they translate Strong’s #444
*@[KEY g44] *[KEY g435] (/*@444 *@435).!(*@444 *@435) (greekstrongs=444 OR greekstrongs=435) NOT (greekstrongs=444 AND greekstrongs=435) Strong’s #444 or #435, no matter how they are translated, but not both
[KEY h3068] of [KEY h6635] ‘*@03068 of *06635 hebrewstrongs=3068 of hebrewstrongs=6635 The phrase variously translated in English versions as “Lord of hosts,” “God of hosts,” etc.

* In Logos one can use “@” instead of ANDEQUALS and “[email protected]” in place of NOTEQUALS. Other search symbols are also accepted (“&” – AND, “|” – OR, “!” – NOT, for example). On a side note, in order to get Logos to return roughly the same results as Accordance and BibleWorks, the syntax shown here has to be tweaked. Thus, unless term modifiers like nostem, marks, etc. are used, results will generally be way too broad due to stemming.

Accordance never displays Strong’s numbers in the Bible window. All the related information (number, English translation, original language word and English transliteration) appears in the Instant Details box instead when the mouse rests on a tagged word. To set up a search, Hebrew numbers must be preceded by an “H” and Greek numbers by a “G.” This is not necessary, of course, if we run the search by right-clicking or control-clicking a tagged text. On the other hand, by opening an original language text in parallel with a Bible keyed with Strong’s numbers, the original text will highlight as we move the cursor on the corresponding English term.

If using the NASB, Logos includes a somewhat similar feature whereby right-clicking on the English text one can navigate to the associated Greek word (in NA27), but it is not highlighted automatically.

BibleWorks can display Strong’s numbers inline (right after the word it is attached to) or hide them altogether, and offers the ability to do studies of word groups “associated” with a particular Strong’s number when the option “Extend <> Tags to All Words” is on. As for typing searches, a zero must precede OT numbers, and no prefix is needed for NT numbers. I should also say that BW can run cross-language searches (but only with the Graphical Search Engine [GSE]) and automatically highlight all the occurrences in both the English and Greek (or Hebrew text). Thus, we could easily find verses with Strong’s number 435 when it has been translated as “husband*” and the Greek version has some form of ἀνήρ.

Accordance can do that with two windows linked by the [CONTENTS] command. As for Logos, the way to do it is via a Reverse Interlinear, by writing the search syntax greekstrongs=435 ANDEQUALS husband AND lemma: ανηρ in a Bible Search window.

Logos can display Strong’s numbers inline, in an interlinear format (below the English text), or hide it from one’s view. A nice touch is the fact that when there is more than a single search term, each one of them is highlighted with a different color.

Further reading:

For a slightly outdated but still relevant article on the various ways to work with Strong’s numbers with Mac-based Bible software, see Getting the Bible’s Numbers, by David Lang.

To know more about how to work with Strong’s numbers in BibleWorks, check out the appropriate Study Guide from within BW8.

Finally, Logos has two recent blog posts on how to use Strong’s numbers, here and here.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 at 6:27 pm and is filed under Comparative, General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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